A Crown witness says sexual abuse and drug use was so common at a former Child, Youth and Family home that the boys there talked about who was going to be the next to be molested by their caregiver.
Their carer, Earl Opetaia, is on trial in the High Court at Auckland, and now faces 27 charges including sexual violation, after six charges were dropped earlier today.
Opetaia ran an Auckland Child, Youth and Family home for boys in the early-to-mid 2000s, caring for around 150 boys over a five-year period. He was a boxer and got some of the boys involved in the sport.
Six boys claim he sexually abused them during this time. None is able to be identified.
One of them said he was 14 or 15 years old at the time of the alleged offending.
In his recorded police interview, the man described the abuse as so common it was considered by the boys at the house as a "normal thing" that the five or six other boys there knew about and discussed.
He described an alleged event where he was made to go into Opetaia's private room.
"He told me to get the f*** in the room, or go to a place worse than where I was... I was just a little kid, I didn't know. He said if I didn't do what he wanted me to do, I'd go to jail," the man said.
"I just did what he said. I didn't have anywhere else to go and he knew that."
The abuse the man alleges - too graphic to report - started two days after he arrived at the house, and he spent less than two months there.
He said he and the other boys talked about who was going to be the next to be abused or beaten up.
"We'd talk about each other being scared, who was going to be next to be sexually molested."
The man said he threatened to call the cops on Opetaia but that only made it worse.
"I was in no way liking this, I wanted to kill him. But I'm just a young kid, it became normal. He kept on bashing me, and he said he was gonna kill my mother and my sister."
The man said Opetaia bought the boys fast food and gave them cannabis, and on one occasion gave him methamphetamine.
"He gave me a puff. That was the first time I smoked P… It was mainly just dope. He gave me dope when I left his room. He gave me a joint while I was in his room… It was pretty much to f*** us up."
He agreed that drugs were gifted in exchange for sex.
He told the court he was scared and didn't know what to do. He "buried all of this years ago" and it made him angry to talk about it.
He said he kept this secret to himself for many years.
He called Opetaia "a sick f***" a number of times in the interview.
"I was old enough to know and understand that this was wrong, but I didn't want to go somewhere worse than that … He's a gang member ... I didn't wanna piss him off, plus he's a boxer."
The man said he knew this because patched gang members would come and go from the house.
Opetaia had six of his charges dismissed today after the Crown said it would not offer any evidence in relation to those. Justice Gault dismissed them.
Opetaia denies all charges. There are 27 charges that remain, including sexual violation, indecency with boys between 12 and 16, drug supply and threatening to kill.
His defence lawyer, Anoushka Bloem, said all the boys' claims were fabricated, made up so they could be compensated for being abused in state care. She accused this witness of lying about having to fight another boy and of being given drugs by Opetaia.
"There were no drugs being offered to any of the boys living upstairs, were there," Bloem said. "I've just told you otherwise, there was," the man replied.
"In fact what would happen was that Mr Opetaia would search the boys' property when you came and went, didn't he," Bloem said. "There was a no drug and alcohol policy, isn't that right?"
"No, that's definitely wrong."
"He never gave drugs to any of these boys, in your words, 'to f*** us up'. That's not true either - that's a lie isn't it?"
"What I've said is true, and I'm not going to take any of it back," the witness said.
Bloem said there were numerous success stories from boys during Opetaia's time running the home, which contrasted sharply with the complaints, because the complaints were simply not true.
It was revealed that Opetaia was convicted in 2014 and served jail time for an unrelated assault of an underage person.
Yesterday Bloem said the men then saw Opetaia as "low-hanging fruit, ripe for the picking for false complaints" and made the claims up in the hope they'd be financially compensated.
The trial continues before a jury and Justice Gault.